Saturday, October 6, 2012

The translation of "alienate" and one quote from TSV: a follow-up to Chapter 23 & 24

# The translation of “alienate”
In the chapter 21, Marx states:
The money-capitalist, in fact, alienates a use-value, and thus whatever he gives away is given as a commodity. (Capital, Vol.3, p.472, Penguin version)
Does the term, alienate, here means the social philosophy sense alienation, or simply the synonyms of transfer or deliver? (There are also many "alienate" used in other sentences within the chapter 21)
In the original German version of Das Kapital, the word used here is “veräuβert”, which can be directly translated into English as “alienate”. However, the word “alienate” in English can refer to different meanings. In the legal literature about the property right, the same “alienate” means transfer or deliver.
According to the context, Marx here is trying to describe that the use-value of capital is gave or lent to the industrial capital as a commodity, so I think that the meaning of the word “alienate” in the chapter 21 is more close to “transfer” or “deliver” rather than the social philosophy sense alienation.
In other chapters and sections, where Marx explicitly refers to the social philosophy sense alienation, Marx usually uses the word, entfremdete, rather than "veräuβert." Such as in the chapter 23:
Due to the alienated character of capital, its antithesis to labour, being relegated to a place outside the actual process of exploitation, namely to the interest-bearing capital… (Capital, Vol. 3, p.382, International version)

Since the estranged  character  of capital,  its  antithesis  to  labour,  is  shifted 
outside the actual process of exploitation, i.e. into interest-bearing 
capital... (Capital, Vol. 3, p.506, Penguin version. *Here seems that the translator of this version was aware of the problem, so he chose a different word)
“alienate” or “estrange”here are translated from “entfremdete”.
Unfortunately, this word “entfremdete” is also translated into English as “alienate”, which is easy to get confused. (Please see the juxtaposed English-German pages here:
I have consulted one of my friends who had studied the legal German. She says that this word “veräuβert” means “transfer” and “deliver” in German, and it is a legal term. “Entfremdete” means “separate” or “estrange”, which is more close to the social philosophy sense alienation. 
Besides, I have check two version of Chinese translations of Marx’s Capital, and I all find the word “讓渡” here, which means “transfer” or “deliver”.
(I just found by chance that there is a paper which pointed out similar problems: Cowling (2006) "Alienation in the Older Marx." Contemporary Political Theory, 5(3): 319–339.)

# about master-slave dialectics
In a section called [4. The Process of Ossification of the Converted Forms of Surplus-Value and Their Ever Greater Separation from Their Inner Substance—Surplus Labour. Industrial Profit as “Wages for the Capitalist”], in Theories of Surplus Value, Vol.3, there is an interesting passage which seems relate to the master-slave dialectics:
Industrial profit does indeed include some part of wages—in those cases where the manager does not draw them. Capital appears in the production process as the director of labour, as its commander (captain of industry) and thus plays an active role in the labour process. But insofar as these functions arise out of the specific form of capitalist production—that is, out of the domination of capital over labour as its labour and, therefore, over the workers as its instruments, out of the nature of capital, which appears as the social entity, the subject of the social form of labour personified in it [capital] as power over labour—this work (it may be entrusted to a manager) which is linked with exploitation is, of course, labour which, in the same way as that of the wage-worker, enters into the value of the product; just as in the case of slaverythe labour of the overseer has to be paid for like that of a worker. If man attributes an independent existence, clothed in a religious form, to his relationship to his own nature, to external nature and to other men so that he is dominated by these notions, then he requires priests and their labour. With the disappearance of the religious form of consciousness and of these relationships, the labour of the priests will likewise cease to enter into the social process of production. The labour of priests will end with the existence of the priests themselves and, in the same way, the labour which the capitalist performs qua capitalist, or causes to be performed by someone else, will end together with the existence of the capitalists. (The example of slavery has to be amplified by quotations.)


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Η μελέτη του «Κεφαλαίου» του Καρλ Μαρξ οφείλει να παίρνει σοβαρά το γερμανικό πρωτότυπο για να αποφεύγονται ολισθήματα που πολλές φορές οδηγούν μέσα από μιαν αλυσίδα συλλογισμών σε μοιραία για την επαναστατική πράξη συμπεράσματα.

Δεν γνωρίζω την αγγλική μετάφραση του «Κεφαλαίου» των εκδόσεων Penguin Books γιατί δεν χρειάστηκε όντας γερμανομαθής να ανατρέξω σε μεταφράσεις, μπορώ όμως με βεβαιότητα να πω ότι αν το γερμανικό veräußern μεταφράζεται στην προκείμενη μετάφραση ως alienate, τότε έχουμε να κάνουμε στην συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση με σοβαρό μεταφραστικό λάθος.

Veräußern στα γερμανικά σημαίνει «μεταβιβάζω κάτι από μιαν ιδιοκτησία σε μιαν άλλη ξένη ιδιοκτησία, πουλάω», ενώ ο Σίλλερ δίνει μια φορά και την σημασία «εξωτερικεύω». Το αγγλικό όμως alienate αντιστοιχεί στο γερμανικό entfremden. Επομένως —για να μείνουμε στην μαρξική ορολογία κι εννοιολογία— οι δύο όροι βρίσκονται σε σχέση γένους και είδους: entfremden είναι το γένος και veräußern είναι το είδος.

Αν στις αναφερόμενες (δεν είμαι σε θέση να ξέρω ποιες είναι ακριβώς) κινέζικες μεταφράσεις του «Κεφαλαίου» το veräußern μεταφράζεται ως 讓渡 ràng dù μεταβιβάζω, παραδίδω, τότε οι κινέζικες αυτές μεταφράσεις πλησιάζουν περισσότερο το γερμανικό πρωτότυπο απ’ ό,τι η συγκεκριμένη αγγλική.

Βέβαια, δεν πρέπει να ξεχνάμε ότι οι κινέζικες μεταφράσεις μαρξικών όρων/κατηγοριών δεν υπήρξαν πάντοτε ευτυχείς και υπενθυμίζω για παράδειγμα την μετάφραση στην κινεζική της κατηγορίας προλεταριάτο: 無產階級 wúchǎn jiējí δηλαδή τάξη χωρίς περιουσία

Μη απολιθωμένος (ακόμα!) από τις ακτές της Ανατολικής Βαλτικής

Anonymous said...

να παίρνει σοβαρά = να παίρνει σοβαρά υπόψη

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juan said...

OT, but applicable - Debord's 'Society of the Spectacle' certainly has to do with alienation that can be understood as forms of colonialism, even slavery.

Society of the Spectacle

So far as 'Reading Marx', I suggest simply reading him rather than reading how to read him - Do not forget 'The Grundrisse'or the last vols. of Capital.

A Su Servicio y gracias